“The Earlier, The Better” say top doctors as NHS England launches first public awareness campaign
NHS England will next week launch its first national
public-awareness campaign in a bid to persuade people not to store
up health problems and to seek advice early.
The eight-week campaign - called The Earlier, The Better -
starts today, and aims to help nip health problems in the bud and
reduce unnecessary stays in hospital.
It follows NHS England's urgent and emergency care review,
published in November last year, which highlighted the rising
number of emergency admissions to hospital that could have been
The review also highlighted the need to improve care outside of
hospital and to increase public understanding of the alternatives
Since last November NHS England's most senior clinicians have
been encouraging people to seek help early over the winter
Their biggest concern has been the rising number of older and
frail people who are admitted to hospital because of respiratory or
other chronic conditions usually worsened by immobility, the cold
and viral illnesses (see attached research).
They say the answer lies in better self and family care, early
recognition of illness and urgent access to medication, primary and
Next week's awareness campaign will target people aged over 60
years old, as well as the carer's of older people. It will in
particular encourage more use of the self-care information about
minor ailments and illnesses on the website NHS Choices, as well as
more use of the services available in community pharmacies.
The public will see posters on bill boards, bus stops, shopping
malls and supermarkets, including sites near pharmacies. Adverts
will also be run in national newspapers, magazines and range of
websites, as well as on commercial radio stations. Posters are
being sent to pharmacy services for display.
Many people are not aware that they can get advice on minor
ailments from their local community pharmacy service. Expert help
can be provided to people for them to manage their long-term
conditions or for ailments such as a bad cough, wheezing, a cold or
sore throat. Many pharmacies have longer opening hours than the
average GP practice, and most have a private consultation area. If
people need to see a doctor, they will be advised accordingly.
Professor Keith Willett, NHS England's Director for Acute Care,
"As a clinician who has spent some 30 years working in the
urgent care system I am really pleased to see a serious attempt to
reach out to the public on this issue.
"We see in our hospitals so many people who have not had or
sought the help they need early enough. We have to do better
at helping people stay well, not just picking up the pieces when
they fall seriously ill.
"Too many people make the mistake of soldiering on, losing the
opportunity to nip things in the bud. Unfortunately this can
lead to an unnecessary stay in hospital, particularly for the more
frail elderly and those with long-term conditions.
"So if you feel under the weather, why not pop into the local
pharmacy, visitwww.nhs.uk/asap or call NHS 111 for
advice on what to do. If the symptoms do not go away, then go
and see your GP. Of course if it's an emergency then go to
"'The message 'the earlier, the better' is crucial for our
patients. The NHS has not spent enough time broadcasting that
message in the past. I would urge the public to listen and act:
it's the right thing to do for you and the NHS."
Clare Howard, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at NHS
"Pharmacists and their teams are well trained and well placed to
be able to offer advice to people seeking help. They can provide
medicines' advice and support for minor ailments, advise you about
how to manage a long term condition and tell you if something needs
more urgent medical attention from your GP, or even your local
"Many members of the public already use their Pharmacist in
these ways. More people could seek help from their Pharmacist when
they first have a problem rather than waiting until it becomes more
serious, or having to go to hospital when the problem could have
been managed earlier."
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